THOMASTON >> Thomaston’s softball team, whose two-year Berkshire League unbeaten streak ended Friday, stopped East Granby’s two year regular-season streak Saturday, 1-0, at Thomaston High School.
“We got beat,” said Crusader Coach Carl Ferrara.
The Crusaders, from the North Central Connecticut Conference (NCCC), are 9-1 after going 20-0 in last year’s regular season.
“We played hard,” said Ferrara. “We just didn’t have it. They beat us.”
“It definitely feels better than yesterday,” said Thomaston Coach Kelly Finlay.
The Golden Bears (10-2) lost an out-of-league game to Conard-West Hartford earlier this season, but it’s two-year BL record remained unblemished until Friday.
On the same Bev Lowdon Field they returned to Saturday, Wamogo pitcher Cyrena Zemaitis struck out 14, then batted in the winning run in the eighth inning after Thomaston pitcher Morgan Sanson (8 strikeouts) tied the score 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly.
“The intensity was different today, but we’re still not where we want to be,” said Sanson.
Saturday, Sanson and Crusader pitcher Genna Hartman matched each other’s intensity pitch for pitch. Each pitcher struck out 11, allowing just three hits on each side.
Each thought they got a game-breaking home run. Only Thomaston’s stood up.
Hartman, the leadoff hitter in East Granby’s batting order, slammed a fly ball to deep right center field in the top of the third inning. She rounded the bases standing up. Then Thomaston Coach Finlay made a protest to veteran field umpire Jack Wright, necessary by the rules before he could take action. Wright agreed with Finlay. Hartman missed first base.
To East Granby Coach Ferrara’s dismay, Hartman was out. A home run turned into a long out.
An inning later, Thomaston’s Alexa Milius drove a line shot down the third base line. Rounding the bases, Finlay waved her in from third. Milius and the Crusader throw arrived together.
“(Catcher Kaelyn Ludwig) was blocking the plate so I couldn’t slide or I’d have been out, so I ran around her,” said Milius.
The tag missed. The Golden Bears’ sophomore shortstop, already one of the best players in the league, was safe with the winning run.
“It just felt good to come back from yesterday,” Milius said.
Saturday’s first inning made a Thomaston comeback unlikely.
The Bears made it to last year’s Class S finals after a state championship the year before. East Granby lost in the Class S semifinals. State Champion Holy Cross dispatched each team, 2-0, then 4-0.
Nevertheless, East Granby had a first-inning edge on Saturday.
Following a pop-up to second, Ludwig hit sharply through the right side hole, Val Winalski through the left side. A wild pitch moved them to second and third.
With one out, the game’s outcome was already on the line.
Sanson struck out the next two batters.
“I do better when I have consecutive days pitching,” said Sanson.
Still, one close call was in the books.
Thomaston’s first three batters went down in order, two strikeouts and a fly to left.
The core of this Golden Bear team is famous for fighting through adversity, whether it’s softball, basketball or field hockey championships at stake or the need to come back from a devastating loss.
Saturday’s second inning turned around. The Crusaders went down in order.
Sanson reached second base while her infield pop-up dropped untouched in the middle of a Crusader committee. Katie Everett sacrificed her to third. This time,
Hartman needed two strikeouts to end the threat.
After East Granby’s would-be homer in the third, Sanson and her defense faced just one more crucial moment.
Winalski led off with a bunt single in the top of the fourth inning, stole second, then made it to third on a wild pitch. Sanson left her there with two more strikeouts and a grounder to short.
In the bottom of the inning, Milius’ home run counted. At 1-0, Thomaston, the threats – and the hits – were over on both sides.
“You wanted to play a good team and you got one,” an East Granby fan reminded her coach.
Thomaston 1, East Granby 0
East Granby 000 000 0 – 0 3 1
Thomaston 000 100 X – 1 3 0
WP: Morgan Sanson. LP: Genna Hartman. HR: T – Alexa Milius. 2B: T – Sanson.
Records: East Granby 9-1; Thomaston 10-2.